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Natchez board moves forward with downtown development plan
from Staff Reports - NEWS
June 13, 2018 - ListenUpYall.com

By John Mott Coffey

NATCHEZ, Miss. – The Board of Aldermen on Tuesday approved FOR Natchez’ request to join in forming an association to revitalize the downtown area.

This will be put into motion by hiring an executive director to coordinate the implementation of a comprehensive plan aldermen approved last month to enhance downtown Natchez’s appearance and its commercial and cultural offerings, said FOR Natchez leader Chesney Doyle.
She said the new downtown Natchez association would take the “Main Street Approach,” which gets downtown stakeholders to collaborate in organizing, promoting commerce, enhancing buildings and expanding the town’s overall economic base.

With a suggested annual budget of $100,000 or so, Mayor Darryl Grennell said the new downtown association should be funded by the Board of Aldermen, the Adams County Board of Supervisors and Natchez Inc., the city-county’s economic development agency.

The city board in May approved a master plan conceived by a Nashville consulting group. Implementing the concepts will require money spent over time by aggressive business entrepreneurs, innovative city government leaders and meticulous historic preservationists. FOR Natchez, a private group led by Doyle, spearheaded the drafting of the plan.

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The Board of Aldermen and mayor closed the public out of discussions about buying the Broadway Street parking lot on the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River. After years of being accessible for the public, the Callon family-owned property was recently chained off to keep vehicles from parking there.

After Tuesday’s meeting, city attorney Bob Latham said the board approved getting an appraisal of how much the land is worth to buy.

The board also closed its meeting to discuss the transfer of the Natchez Visitor Reception Center to the National Park Service. The U.S. Congress earlier this year authorized the NPS to take the city-owned facility. The Board of Aldermen has struggled in recent years to fund maintenance and repairs for the building, which houses the city and state’s tourist welcome center along with offices for the Natchez National Historical Park.

Latham said after the meeting that aldermen approved a transfer proposal for the NPS to consider that keeps part of the parking lot for the city to retain.

It’s uncertain why the board wanted the public to not hear their discussions about the two properties, but state law does allow government boards to close their meetings to discuss the “prospective purchase, sale or leasing of lands.”

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The repaving of selected Natchez streets is expected to begin in August, said city Public Works Director Justin Dollar. With about $310,000 allocated for it by the city board, the work marks the end of a two-year moratorium on street overlay projects. Dollar said the list of streets to receive new asphalt and stripes should be ready for the public to see when details are finalized.

The last previous round of street repavement was in 2016, which was the fourth year in a row of such work. About $2 million was used for street improvements during those four years from revenues Natchez receives for leasing the city-owned land occupied by Magnolia Bluffs Casino.

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The Board of Aldermen has begun the process for regulating food trucks. With the recent influx of these restaurants on wheels, city officials will consider crafting a new ordinance specifically for them. City Planning Director Rico Giani noted it’s actually illegal for food trucks to operate on city streets. They can only be on private property. Giani said city regulations currently contain no standards for food trucks to go by. No mention is made, for example, of fire-suppression equipment, signage and proximity to established restaurants.

Giani said a proposed food truck ordinance will be the subject of public hearings and presented to the Natchez Planning Commission and Board of Aldermen for adoption.




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